From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Chapter 1 of Dunant's latest historical feast opens on August 11, 1492, with the people of Rome rejoicing, We have a pope! The cardinal, who has just been elevated to the papal throne after five days of voting by the College of Cardinals, is a Spaniard by the name of Rodrigo Borgia, who chooses to reign as Pope Alexander VI. Thus is inaugurated a highly dramatic period in papal, Italian, and even European history as the Borgia family the pope and his bastard children, two sons and one daughter, unhidden as such extend their influence well beyond the confines of ecclesiastical matters to exert power within the Italian peninsula exactly as would a powerful royal dynasty heavily involved in the politics of the day. Pope Alexander, who reveled in the physical attractiveness and mental vitality of his three illegitimate, now full-grown children, used them as pawns to strengthen his personal hand within the papacy and further afield, becoming stronger and more potent in their presence. As the eldest son, the infamous Cesare, says, There have been none like us before. And there will be none like us afterwards. For those who find Hilary Mantel's brilliant Tudor novels too deep and demanding, Dunant offers less rigorous, more comfortable historical fiction. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The author of The Birth of Venus (2004) is being accorded a vigorous publicity campaign for her latest novel, which will include lots of media focus.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist
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The time is the late 15th century, and the Borgias are on the rise. Italy is a chaotic tangle of loosely joined city-states, caught between the rule of the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, where power and wealth are the spoils of those ruthless enough to take them. What some would consider criminal behavior, the Borgias consider massaging the situation to their advantage. From church law to social law, no rule is so unbreakable as to stop the family in its quest for power. The fourth novel from the best-selling author of The Birth of Venus casts the spotlight on the ruthless Rodrigo Borgia-also known as Pope Alexander VI-and his children's activities, from eldest son Cesare's ice-cold political machinations to daughter Lucrezia's three marriages of convenience, in the name of familial strategy. VERDICT Hilary Mantel fans and historical fiction readers in general looking for another meaty novel won't want to miss Dunant's latest. [See Prepub Alert, 1/21/13.]-Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.